The life of a rural father is very arduous. With a little source of income, he has to entirely depend on agriculture. And if it so much fails, an entire year is forfeited.
This has contributed to failure of many rural parents, especially the uneducated ones to support their children’s education to the highest level.
But Kukele Prosper and his siblings were lucky because despite their father’s inability to go to school, he was keen on educating them.
With his support, Prosper is currently a third year BSC Nursing student whilst his brother is a second year Doctor of Pharmacy student, both at University of Development Studies.
Prosper and ten other siblings are at various stages of education. One has just completed Senior High School, three others are still in the second cycle level of their education and the rest at Junior High and lower primary.
Paying their individual fees was the biggest challenge of the father, Kuleke Honyedzi considering the number of children.
All this didn’t come easy to the family, says Prosper, as his father has to fish on the Black Volta to arrange for their fees.
Mr Honyedzi had to on several instances take loans from friends and other people to support the upbringing of the children.
“With interest, it took two or more months to pay” Mr Honyedzi said.
Mr Honyedzi paid about ¢10 to every ¢100 he took as a loan. The interest was based on the period of payment.
He has a maize, cassava and pepper farm but eventually gave up due to some challenges it came with at the time.
Prosper, Jacob and their siblings consider themselves fortunate having managed to escape their father’s footstep which could have left them uneducated.
“We consider ourselves fortunate that we at least are in school and this will pave way for the rest of the children to follow suit,” says Prosper.
But Prosper and his siblings ability to go school up to University didn’t come on a silver platter.
Their father had to work extra hours on the Black Volta to raise his daily income.
Haven’t set his foot into the four corners of a classroom, Mr Honyedzi was determined to change the situation of his children.
Mr Honyedzi regrets his father’s failure to send him to school but he is determined to work under the sun to get all his children educated.
“I wish I could read. That alone would have been the greatest achievement for me,” he says.
It was this thought that made Honyedzi put aside ¢2000 to set up a grinding mill business. The goal was to ensure that the business grows and that none of his children will drop out of school due to lack of financial resources.
After 12years of establishing his grinding mill business, life hasn’t been the same. Everything has turned to his favour and the joy of others.
This is what his children especially prosper and Jacob describe as the greatest ever achievement in the family.
Running a family business, and joining it seems like a no-brainer to them.
After all, not only are jobs hard to come by, but there are also countless advantages to working for the father.
That is the decision a BSC Nursing and a Pharmacy student took to help their father operate his cassava-milling centre at Buipe in the Savanna region.
For Prosper and his siblings, “no job is perfect,” particularly when their boss was the same person who, perhaps, changed their diapers when they were babies.
They spend their holidays at the milling centre to reduce the workload on the father.
“This is what pays our fees and it is great honour to be here to help it grow.” Kuleke Jacob smiles while explaining how he would want to see the father’s business expand.
Apparently, family time for the dynamic duo is business – business because they only leave their seats when there is no cassava to grind.
They are proud of the father’s ability to set up a business though he lost the opportunity to go school.
“It is not easy. There are a lot of graduates out there who can’t even start anything. So it is a favour.” says Prosper.
There is common belief that working for one’s parents can lead to significant conflict.
But for Prosper and Jacob, if the lines of communication are open, with clear boundaries set, the business is likely to survive and absolve from the adversity of familiarity.
Their 47-year-old father’s business engages hundreds of women and sponsors his children education.
Mr. Honyedzi started with two milling machines but now has 12.
He makes about ¢1000 weekly as profit. But it is electricity bills that take a chunk of the money.
“I could have made more profit but for electricity bills,” he says.
But he is excited many women who peel the cassava for processing into flour are making some kind of livelihood.
The little they earn is used to cater for the family.
Just like many places in the country, women struggle to fill gaps and face difficult trade-off between care for family and boosting their economic status.
They pay a high price working long hours and earning lower incomes within constrained choices like the peeling of cassava even into the night.
The situation becomes even more complex when these women become widows under any circumstance.
The lines on their faces give different meaning but who can read their pain and misery or joy and pleasure or even the depth of their experience in life?
Grace Foli lost her husband seven years ago. She decided to join these women to fend for herself and her children.
Sadly, she has 15 children. Six girls and nine boys. Four are in school- two in SHS and the other two Junior High but the rest idle home. She hardly pays their fees.
Mrs Foli has no other means of livelihood after husband’s death. No relative from both sides of the families is supportive.
Her life is a reflection of several other widows across Africa whose lives are virtually cut short in the absence of their male partners.
Another woman Melody Gbadah’s situation is quite different.
Mrs Gbadah husband is alive. She has six children – two boys and four girls. Fortunately, all of them are in school.
So why she does everything all by herself to feed the family is another topic for discussion.
But she maintains her family.
Her first born, 27-year old Evelyn Asiamah had to drop out of nursing training in 2018 after having done two years due to financial challenges.
Evelyn is now home trying to raise some money to make a second attempt.
Because of the increasing number of women who make their livelihood from peeling of the cassava, a shift system has been introduced within only five working days to enable all of them get engaged.
“Sometimes, we don’t even get the work to do because of our number.” One of them Binta Krabasu says.
Binta has also been peeling the cassava for at least six years now. She wants their daily pay increase from ¢17 cedis to ¢20.
“We are appealing to them to increase the pay. Sometimes, we even work into the night.” She says.
Binta laments, “anytime there is shortage of cassava, we sleep all day. No work. Nothing.”
The practice of married women completely assuming responsibilities of their husbands is common in this part of the world.
Social programs to enable these women to strike out on their own while ensuring their families have something to lean on are unavailable here.
Teenagers also go to the milling centre either to help their mothers or otherwise.
It may look so easy to the casual observer but any attempt to do this work for pleasure may leave one with prolonged waist pain.
Until a miracle happens, these women will continue with little opportunities for God knows how long.
But for Prosper and Jacob, even if a more promising career opportunity comes along, they will find a way to keep the father’s business afloat.
They ask: How could you possibly abandon their father and his business when that has been the source of finance for their education and daily survival.